what is the difference between openMoko and windows mobile based phones

Sencer alisencer at gmail.com
Thu Jan 18 14:21:03 CET 2007

On 1/18/07, hank williams <hank777 at gmail.com> wrote:
> What I mean by this is that it seems everyone is saying that the big
> difference is that you can get 3rd party *real apps* on the phone.

Actually I think most people are saying, that you have full access to
a) the hardware and b) to the sources of all applications that run on
it. And not only do you have access to the source, but the freedom to
change and redistribute the changed application. That's the deciding
factor. "3rd party apps" in general have been a distinct feature of
every smartphone so far, the only reason it's being discussed today at
all, is because Apple is disallowing it.

> Now I am not saying open source isnt great. But from your *average* users
> perspective I would love to hear the advantages of the open source for these
> devices.

By "average" user, I assume you mean those people that do not program
or administer complex software. Well, let me try it with an analogy:
What benefit does somebody have from "freedom", when he is not
interested in making use of it (i.e. working the same job all his
life, voting the same party no matter what, etc.) because his main
objectives - feeding his family, doing X or doing Y - are equally
possible under a repressive regime and in a free country? It's simple,
you'll likely still be better of in the free country, because the
freedom enables improvements that you will eventually benefit from,
even if you never specifically worked (in a hands-on way) towards
those specific interests. Now that doesn't mean that as soon as there
is freedom, you automatically and directly are better of if you don't
make use of it; it's merely the beginning of a process. So today, and
for the 1st generation devices that run openmoko, you may (as an
average user) not reap immediate benefits, but you will help enable a
success through freedom, in that the other people that do have the
interest and/or skill necessary to turn that freedom into a benefit
for everybody.

> Is this just a geek issue? It seems like most of the apps described
> on this list could be done with any of the windows mobile phones. I'd just
> love, for my own edification, to hear why this is wrong.

For example the PIM/Messaging applications (which areguably are the
core of a smaratphone) are not limited by what the device-makers are
able and willing to develop. You could add sending SMS over HTTP,
sending voice-mails via E-Mail, automatically sending notifications
that you are delayed for appointments and for how long (by checking
the calendar, the GPS coordinates, and the average speed of your
movement). Now the point is not only, that it is possible to write
these applications, but that the functionality can be seamlessly
integrated into the existing base-applications, and everybody is able
to benefit from it. With bluetooth and usb on board, there is a very
real possibility of expanding the possibilites in a way that is simply
not possible on windows mobile or symbian, because you simply cannot
access certain aspects of the phone. As a simple example: Many older
wifi-cards that can do WEP but can't do WPA are limited due to
software, not hardware reasons. But given that you already paid for
them there is no incentive to do that work. Similar with bluetooth
functionality, many early phones (looks at nokia) only had a very
limited support for certain bluetooth functionality ("profiles"), and
that limitation was due to sotware reasons, not hardware reasons. And
interested people that had the time and skill still couldn't do
anything about it. People were simply stuck with a castrated phone.

[Quoting from a later mail:]
> This is because big open source projects are often done by teams where everyone can do
> what they want. This tends to mean there is no singular unified design vision.

That's not necessarily the case. In fact I know plenty of counter
examples. Open source does not dictate _how_ the software is to be
developed or designed. So when you say:

> But good UI doesn't work that way.

that is correct, but it's not necessarily a statement about open
source in general.

> But the bottom line is that my biggest problem with phones is that they are just not
> designed well. The pretty much all suck!

Well, I do not think that open source is a huge enabled in that
respect either. So while it doesn't necessarily have to be better or
worse than closed source, the code-licence simply isn't a good
indicator to judge the likely quality of the UI.



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